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Anthony "Tony" Kilmer Bower (June 11, 1911 - July 3, 1972) was a longtime friend of Jean Connolly and Cyril Connolly. They met in Mallorca in 1930, where the Connollys were spending their honeymoon. Tony Bower, a gregarious, homosexual redheaded epicurean - Maurice Bowra once described him as 'a gossip columnist without a column' - became one of A.J. Ayer's closest New York friends. Bower, who had been a near contemporary of his at Oxford after which he earned a living as a professional bridge player, had what Ayer described as a "zest" or an "appetite" for life, a quality which he prized above all others.
Anthony Kilmer Bower was born in New York, to Ruth Gordon Duff, formerly Ruth Kilmer Lake. Ruth was a friend of Dwight Ripley's grandmother in Connecticut, but Tony had lived in England since he was six, and Dwight knew him from childhood. Bower attended Marlborough and Oxford, and it was he who introduced Jean to Rupert Barneby and Dwight Ripley.
Bower worked briefly on Horizon, founded by Cyril Connolly and Peter Watson, before moving to New York.
Jean Connolly moved in an entourage of young male couples that included Dwight Ripley and Rupert Barneby, Tony Bower and Cuthbert Worsley, Peter Watson and Denham Fouts, Brian Howard and Toni Altmann. "Drink, night life, tarts and Tonys," complained Cyril Connolly, who referred to the whole entourage as "Pansyhalla." They liked Picasso, Marcel Proust, and Francis Poulenc, favored in architecture the Baroque, admired Josephine Baker and jazz. Cyril Connolly blamed his marital difficulties on Jean's friends in Pansyhalla. "WE have still done nothing," he complained, "we have talked, quarrelled, drunk and laughed a great deal, and made love, but constructed nothing and not even really helped out friends, our only creations, Tony Bower and Nigel Richards." Bower believed, as did Dwight Ripley, that the separation (they called it "the parturition") had more to do with Cyril Connolly's being the child to Jean. When she returned to England because of the war, it appeared the marriage might be salvaged after all. Dwight had offered the Spinney, but Jean thought better of it. "The Connollys haven't showed up," he reported to Rupert Barneby. Instead she went biking near Trewyn with Peter Watson's lover, Denham Fouts, proceeded with him to Ireland, and from there the two departed for New York. Fouts was to be entrusted in America with Watson's five-by-four-foot Picasso, Girl Reading at a Table, which had been on view in the Picasso retrospective at the Musuem of Modern Art. Fouts continued south to visit his family in Florida, where Jean panned to join him for a drive cross-country to California. She first had an errand to accomplish on behalf of Cyril, who had asked her to contact a prospective contributor to Horizon and encouraged him to submit material. This was Clement Greenberg, an employee then of the US Custom Service, whose now famous essay, "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" had impressed Connolly when it appeared the previous year in Partisan Review. Jean didn't telephone; she simply knocked at Greenberg's door. In his letters to Harold Lazarus, Greenberg described the resulting affair. Fouts, losing patience, started for California by himself. Jean caught up with him in Dallas, and in Los Angeles they joined their refugee friends, who included, by this time, Tony Bower. Tony had exploited his natural talent as an amusing gossip to become the film correspondent of The Nation, a New York paper. The interlude that followed was to inspire the "Paul" chapter in Down There on a Visit by Christopher Isherwood (1962). Jean became "Ruthie," Fouts is "Paul," Bower is "Ronny," and Gerald Heard is "Augustus Parr."
Bower as "Ronny" is a character whose "impudent, attractively comic face keeps breaking into grins, and his round blue eyes sparkle with a lit-up gaiety which is in its way courageous, because he isn't as carefree as he tries to appear. Soon after this, he was drafted into the US army.
In 1940, during the autumn height of the Blitz, Stephen Spender published an open letter to Christopher Isherwood in the New Statesman. "You can't escape," wrote Spender. "If you try to do so, you are simply putting the clock back for yourself: using your freedom of movement to enable yourself to live still in pre-Munich England." Isherwood, who left long before the Blitz, was annoyed. So was Dwight Ripley. "It takes in all of us refugees," he complained to Rupert Barneby, while implying that there was more than politics at issue. "I shall always think of the Spenders henceforth as Delight and Inez, How bitter they are, and no wonder." Earlier, Spender in fact urged Isherwood to emigrate to America in search of refuge for his German lover, Heinz Neddermeyer. In Dwight's circle of friends, Brian Howard likewise had a German lover, Toni Altmann. After Hitler was named chancellor, Isherwood spent the next four years, Howard the next seven, each contending with a sucession of revoked visas, expired passports, and sudden deportations in their continuing efforts to find asylum or new citizenship for Neddermeyer and Altmann, respectively, and so prevent their eventual repatriation and arrest in Germany. Both Englishmen tried to get their lovers into England, and both were refused on moral grounds. Erika Mann married W.H. Auden and became a British subject overnight. When Neddermeyer was arrested in Paris, it was Tony Bower who went to rescue him. Isherwood joined them in Luxembourg, but from there Neddermeyer was expelled into Germany, where he was arrested, charged with reciprocal onanism ("in fourteen foreign countries and in the German Reich," remembered Isherwood), found guilty, and sentenced to successive terms in prison, at hard labor, and in the army. Brian Howard's efforts on behalf of Toni Altmann were likewise frustrated at the end. Howard was an early and outspoken antifascist, the first Englishman to understand the Nazi threat, claimed Erika Mann, who, when asked to describe his plans for returning to serve England, had responded in language of persuasive spontaneity: "So, really, I have no plans, except to do my best for Toni." Altmann was interned by the French in Toulon in September 1939, then moved to Le Mans, where Howard lost track of him. Howard remained in France trying to locate his lover until, in June the following year, he escaped on a coal freighter that departed Cannes the day before the Germans arrived in Marseilles.
Harold Norse was Dwight Ripley's obsession of the 1951 season, and Norse was richly rewarded by him with the gift of an expensive Picasso that made it possible for him to move to Italy. Fidelity was not a Norse characteristic; as Rupert Barnaby, later said, "Dwight is not a griever or a whiner. Gone are the snows of yesterdays." Norse portraied Dwight in his memoirs as the millionnaire "Cyril Reed". Norse had an apartment at 573 Third Avenue, where he lived one floor above a New Zealand painter, Glyn Collins (for a short time in 1945 the husband of Muriel Rukeyser), who was commissioned by Dwight Ripley to paint a portrait of Tony Bower. When Collins gave a party he invited his upstairs neighbor Norse. Other guests that evening included the painter-and-poet couple Theodoros Stamos and Robert Price; the Abstract Expressionist painter William Baziotes and his wife, Ethel; the Living Theatre's founders-to-be Julian Beck and Judith Malina; the social philosopher Paul Goodman and his wife, Sally; John Bernard Myers and his roommate, Waldemar Hansen; the poet Ruthven Todd; and Dwight and Rupert. Dwight, reports Norse in his memoirs, was drunk, fell for him with a "thud heard round the room," and before passing out inquired what he most wanted. Norse had no way of knowing that Dwight a decade earlier had complained, "I long to say just $20." No doubt he did know, but way of Chester Kallman and W. H. Auden, the story of Denham Fouts and the liquidated Picasso given to him by Peter Watson. "Taking it as a big joke," writes Norse, "I blurted out with drunken laughter, "How about a Picasso?" "Is that all?" he screamed. "Daahling, it's yours!" A few days after the party a limousine arrived on Third Avenue, and the surprised Norse opened his door to find a chauffeur, in uniform, who had come to dliver a 1923 Picasso gouache, a ten-by-sixteen-inch study for The Dancers, certified by Pierre Matisse.
In the protrait that Dwight Ripley commissioned from Glyn Collins, Tony Bower was given a bitter expression, although Christopher Isherwood recalled of him in Down There on a Visit that "his impudent, attractively comic face keeps breaking into grins." As managing editor at Art in America, Bower sometimes wrote for that magazine. The April issue in 1964 carried his positive reappraisal of painter Florine Stettheimer.
On July 3, 1972, the body of Tony Bower was found in his new apartment at 160 East 65th Street. He was shot in the chest. Bower had published four years earlier an article in Art in America that explored fraud and forgery in the art world. He even named dealers who were the sources of suspect paintings. He then left the magazine to become a dealer himself, first at the Knoedler Gallery and next at his own gallery in the Hyde Park Hotel. The police reported that Bower knew his murderer, robbery was not the motive, and the case soon would be solved. No arrest ever was made.
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